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A mother in pain is Mother India in pain: story of a senior citizen amidst Freedom@75

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava* 

Mother India celebrates 75 years of independence of which Anuradha Bal has witnessed 73 years. While witnessing the building of the nation, Anuradha also built her life from childhood in West Bengal to over half the century in the sleepy town of Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh.
She spent all her life as a teacher at the Khalsa Higher Secondary School in Dayalband and taking care of her four daughters (even after their marriage). With meagre salary of hers and that of her husband, like many parents they faced hardships together to give the children the best education and the values possible.
Looking back in retrospection, Anuradha implicitly built an alternate career of a mini-builder. On August 14 she visited the four houses that she resided in Bilaspur in the last 55 years, one where she was brought after marriage and the other three that she built with strategic savings and profits from building and selling properties. This strategy brought a dignified living for all.
After retirement and finishing her responsibilities as wife and mother, when it is the time to live peacefully and reflect upon the life lived, Anuradha is in distress by things that should not have occurred. Despite her financial security, good health and social life, she is stressed to live in her own house by none other than her own child.
This narration tells the helplessness of a mother-teacher, now a senior citizen, to battle out her right to live with dignity. What is inspiring is her motivation and dedication to fight for her right to live with dignity.
In a country that is really working hard on the problems of patriarchy, what do you do when a woman is unsupportive of another woman, that too mother-daughter. When a mother (parent) works hard to raise her children, how does it feel when later her child/ren start misusing the biological rights? When a teacher teaches her students to be a good human being, how does it feel when a student starts applying (misusing) the education, the position and the power acquired on the very teacher?
To add to it, how does it feel when the system from the top to bottom undermines the right of the senior citizen and puts her into the long bureaucratic procedures? Anuradha is still lucky to be educated and strong woman to fight it out for her right, wondering how the uneducated-weak women are distressed.
And we are embarrassingly talking about New India, Azadi, 5 Trillion, Vishwaguru, etc. etc. when over 4.70 crore cases are pending in various courts in the country to resolve only the internal matters, of which most of them the poor-vulnerable-senior citizen-women, victimized by the sheer systematic processes of bureaucracy.
This narration of Anuradha tells the state of a lot of mothers in the country, who work selflessly for their child/ren but unfortunately many suffer towards the end of their lives. As India houses among the highest number of distressed/abandoned mothers/women in the world after they are widowed or cheated by their spouse and/or child/ren.
Most of the women before they are robbed of their belongings and dignity have usually lived dignified life and wishing wellbeing of their spouse/siblings. This narration is also a learning for the would-be mothers on the dos and donts. Like Anuradha regrets the most about having four daughters in the urge/pressure to have a son. This narration is also to put some questions to self and the society.
In today’s time of urbanization, the social character of the neighborhoods is alienated making the lives of senior citizens and women are extremely challenging. Often the society gives the onus to the children to take care of the parents at the old age, rightfully so, but ‘where they should be taken care’ remains a difficult puzzle.
It is often challenging for children to take care of the parents physically if they migrate to other cities for livelihood and their family. Then, moving the parents to the new place is also challenging, as they feel uprooted from their base (physical-social life). Under such circumstances, the least the children can ensure is a safe and peaceful life at a place where the parents prefer to live.
To add to it, the least the system can do is to attend to the needs of the senior citizens with more empathy and urgency. Then there are also instances (like in Bilaspur) where old-age homes are in poor conditions and new old-age homes are not inhabited/preferred where many like Anuradha do not wish to move, especially when they feel financially, emotionally and physically well.
Anuradha built her house with her hard-earned savings, and if she wishes to live there peacefully until the end of her life, it must be respected and ensured by the child/ren and the system. Instead, she is pushed to live in stress by a child further augmented by poor support from the system.
She fought a legal battle for six years to claim her right to live with dignity in her own house and got the judgement in her favour. It has been nearly seven months since then that the system is yet to implement the judgement that Anuradha prayed and got in her favour. As we see in the televisions and films, Anuradha too has moved from office to office to just request the system to respect the order. But alas!
Like every/any citizen, Anuradha is entitled to her fundamental Right to Live with dignity to be ensured by the system especially after she fought the battle for it and won it. The Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees the life and personal liberty to all persons. It guarantees the right of persons to life with human dignity. Therein are included, all the aspects of life which go to make a person's life meaningful, complete and worth living.
Anuradha lives in Nagdaoney Colony at Vyapar Vihar. All that she is seeking support from her children and the system is support her in living with peace and dignity in her house that she built brick by brick. She needs support of the city that she devoted her life by raising wonderful citizens through her teachings and obeying the system that runs the law and order of the city.
She is probably a teacher to thousands of students in Bilaspur (and outside) who are now good citizens and doing well. Through this narration, it is a shout from her to all the Bilaspurians, and especially to her friends, seniors, juniors, from the Khalsa Higher Secondary School; to people of the Tehsil Office, where her husband worked his entire life; and to her past and present neighbours; to support her in requesting the system to just provide her the right to live in her house with dignity by just doing an ordinary thing, follow the law of the land.
A common societal question-cum-suggestion is, ‘Why don’t you take your mother and take care of her?’ Yes, I can definitely do that, and I must do that, I admit. Well, it is often tagged as a family matter.
However, a simple question still remains to ask to the society and the system. If someone wishes to live in her own house with her belongings and peace and is seeking support in that, first, can the society and the system respect and support in her right to do so? There is a social-administrative matter entangled with her personal-family matter.
Despite the efforts, since it feels helpless in the bureaucratic processes, this is also a shout from me to all the Bilaspurians and to my friends from the Burgess Higher Secondary School where I did my schooling that please request the system to do an ordinary thing: follow the law of the land.
In a country that cannot ensure reducing the pain of the mother by just simply following the law, there is a long way to reducing the pain of Mother India, importantly the pain of the those who have already served the family and the society all her life, a mother-a senior citizen.
---
*Entrepreneur, researcher, educator, speaker, mentor; see more on her here: www.mansee.in

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